The New York State Department of Labor announced the implementation of a new law to further narrow the wage gap between male and female employees. This law takes effect on January 6, 2020, and prohibits both public and private employers from asking orally or in writing for job applicants to provide their wage or salary history as a condition of employment. This law will apply to current employees as well.
Pay differentials will still be permitted when they are job-related and based on reasons other than the employee’s protected class status, including seniority, merit, experience, education, and other methodology that would measure salary by quality or quantity of work performed.
The New York State salary history ban mirrors the law that has already been in effect in New York City and several counties. The New York City law also bans employers from inquiring about an applicant’s salary history, but goes farther than the statewide reform because it also prevents employers from conducting a search of publicly available records to obtain an applicant’s salary history. This difference is significant, especially for individuals working for public employers, because government salaries for state employees are publically available.
The New York State salary history ban comes as a part of Governor Cuomo’s 2019 Women’s Justice Agenda, which seeks to advance reproductive, economic, and social justice for New York women. In addition to the salary history ban, other economic justice reforms were passed under the Women’s Justice Agenda with the purpose of narrowing the wage gap. One such reform was an expansion of the definition of “equal pay for equal work,” which requires equal pay on the basis of race, ethnicity, and gender, and expands the requirement that equal pay must be provided for all substantially similar work. Also, the governor has created a task force on Representation and Corporate Transparency to ensure transparency in the private sector in regard to workforce diversity, pay equity, and diversity in corporate leadership.
New York notably has the narrowest wage gap in the country. However, women in New York still earn the equivalent of 89 cents to the dollar earned by a man. In response, the salary history ban and other reforms passed by the Women’s Justice Agenda will try to narrow the gap further.